YOUR QUICK GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING STOCKS

 

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I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful      – Warren Buffet

This is a famous quote from Warren Buffet’s book, titled ‘Think like Warren Buffet’ where he was practically giving advice on how to become a wise investor. A quick glance through various search engines on the words investor, investment and invest automatically brings up words such as stocks, shares and shareholders. Talking about financial investment and knowing how to invest wisely often times involves dealing with stocks. Now for some of you, you probably have come across the word before and perhaps know certain things about what it entails, while for some other people, you are not so acquainted with it. We are going to be brushing up on what stocks mean and take you on a quick tour on understanding how stocks works.

So what is a stock? Stock simply means a share in the ownership of a company. In simpler terms, it means being one of the owners of a company. Owning stocks in a company means you are entitled to its earnings (which is the amount of money that particular company has earned during a specified period) and assets (refers to an element of economic value belonging to the company and which is expected to produce a benefit in future periods). You might have come across words such as equity and shares, they both mean the same thing as stocks. Now let us delve further into what owning a stock means. Owning a stock or shares in a certain company means you own a part of that company. So the higher the shares you own in that company, the corresponding higher percentage you own in that same company.

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Now for regular folks like you and I, owning a share in a company, let’s say for example, Pepsi, does not mean we can go into any of the company’s outlets and begin to order the staffs around, and sorry to ‘burst your bubble’ again, it doesn’t also mean you get free pepsi cola drinks whenever you want at any of their outlets. It doesn’t really work that way. What it technically means is that you own a piece of every trademark of that company, buildings, furniture, equipment and also, earnings of that company. Your entitlements are majorly two things; the earnings and voting shares. Earnings has been simply and briefly explained earlier on, while voting shares simply means the particular shares that bestows the shareholder with the right to vote on matters of corporate policy making as well as electing those who will constitute the board of directors.

The proof of your ownership of a particular stock is the stock certificate. It is a swanky piece of paper which ideally represents your stock. Several years back prior to the emergence of portable computers and internet services, stock certificates were almost always in the possession of the owners of the stocks. This was the medium which stocks were being traded. To buy or sell your shares in a company, you must have your stock certificate with you as this serves as the proof of your ownership. But today, you don’t have to have your stock certificate physically with you as it is electronically stored. This makes it safer to keep and easier to trade with. Having learnt what a stock certificate means, the next thing you should know are the types of stocks.

There are basically two main smorgasbord of stocks, Common Stock and Preferred Stock. The common stock is the most likely type of stock you would have heard, read or watched being talked about. Majority of stockholders deal with this type of stock. It basically means what we’ve been talking about; having a part in the ownership of a particular company with a claim to its profits and also with the ability and opportunity to participate in voting in members that will constitute the board of directors. With common stock, you also get to be paid dividend (a distribution of a company’s earnings to its shareholders) depending on the amount of profit the company is raking in. Preferred stock is a ‘special’ type of stock where shareholders are assured of a fixed dividend. The stock also doesn’t have the same voting rights as the common stock. In short, it differs from the common stock mainly in two ways; having a fixed dividend as opposed to the variable dividends associated with common stock and also, not having the same voting rights.

We’ve discussed what a stock is, the meaning of stock certificate and likewise the major types of stocks. Now let’s talk about how people make money by investing in the stock market. When you buy a common stock, you have two major source of generating income. The first way is through dividends as we talked about earlier. This is when the board of directors of the particular company that you have invested in decides to pay you a certain amount of money as part of the profit they made. This is usually proportional to the amount of shares you have in that company. So basically, you get a higher dividend than someone with a lower amount of shares in that same company. You should also know that there is no rule that says a company must compulsorily pay you dividend, although a lot of companies do. Secondly and most importantly, you can generate income by selling your shares at a higher rate than they originally were. For example, you buy 1000 shares at a company at the rate of N20 per share. This means you have N20,000 worth of shares invested in that company. As the company grows and becomes more profitable with the aid of a good management team, great product or service and exceptional marketing skills, potential investors and regular folks see this as a good investment and likewise invest in that company. Gradually, the naira per share value of that company will rise, let’s say to N100, so automatically your naira worth in that company becomes N100,000. You can decide to cash out your N100,000 by selling your shares to an interested buyer through a broker (an individual or a firm behooved with the role of matchmaking buyers to sellers and vice versa).

Trading of stocks is done through an exchange, which is an avenue for buyers and sellers of stocks to meet and discuss the price of the particular stock involved. There are two types, the physical exchange and virtual exchange. The physical exchange involves a trading floor where transactions are carried out. You might have seen something similar depicting this in a movie or news channel, where men and women wearing suits or jackets waving their hands up and yelling out certain words and numbers to each other. The other type, which is the virtual exchange, involves trading electronically. There are virtual brokerage firms that allows the investor the liberty and comfort of trading from anywhere they want through the use of mobile devices, tablets or computers. The exchange can be compared to an e-commerce site such as Konga, which links up buyers to sellers and vice versa. In Nigeria, the stock exchange is known as the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) while in the United States, the major stock exchanges are the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange), NASDAQ and AMEX (American Stock Exchange). The NYSE is an example of the physical exchange; while NASDAQ is a virtual exchange where trading is done electronically with no floor brokers or any central location. London houses the popular London Stock Exchange, Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) is the major stock exchange in Hong Kong while Brazil is home to BM&F Bovespa.

Let me conclude by indulging you on the reasons why companies issue out stocks to individuals or institutional investors. You ever wonder why these companies will want to share ownership of their companies and subsequently share their profits? The reason is that at some point every company needs to raise capital. They might need to raise capital for a big and extensive project they are working on, to expand their business or simply to service off a debt. So instead of going to the bank to get a loan to fulfill the capital need of their projects or expansion plans, they sell off a certain percentage of their company. This works well with the companies as they are not required to pay back any debt or interests incurred on the debt. When a company decides to sell out part of its company to the public for the first time, it is called an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Individuals and institutional investors buy shares during the IPO of some companies in the hope that those shares will be worth more than they originally were after a while. This is where the distinction comes between the two entities Primary Market and Secondary Market. The primary market involves buying shares from a company during its IPO, while in the secondary market, investors trade previously issued shares/stocks. When people refer to the stock market, most of the times, they are referring to the secondary market.

Balogun Oluwafemi

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HOLYFIELD’s DONATION… HOAX OR TRUE?

 

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Just getting back from a trip yesterday afternoon, I decided to take time to rest while watching TVC. Flashes of several news making the headlines were highlighted by the news anchor, but I was subtly interested in the one showcasing the pugilist Evander Holyfield donating cash in the amount of three million dollars ($3,000,000) to Lagos State. The money is meant to be used to buy health equipment for health facilities for some of the hospitals in the State. I was bewildered to see a legend like Holyfield come to Lagos State and extend a philanthropic hand to the health sector. This appeared unequivocally as a magnanimous deed, one that should be truly appreciated. Watching on, I saw the great Nigerian ‘Machiavelli’ Tinubu standing beside the Legend while Governor Ambode was also not too far away. At this point, the curious side of me became partly conscious as to what was going on, something wasn’t right and was a little off, but seeing that I needed sleep, I decided to allow the byzantine thought pass.

Waking up this morning, I had a discussion with a friend and talked much about the three million dollars Holyfield donated to Lagos. The math just wasn’t adding up. How will Holyfield who as of April 2017 was valued to have a net worth ranging from five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) to one million dollars ($1,000,000) make a three million dollar donation to Lagos State, Lagos o. His net worth is one million dollars at its best, and that is not even liquid cash. Fifteen years back, there won’t even be any need for this write up as the Legend was making a buck load of money. It is estimated that he made about $230 million in his career as a boxer. He had several endorsements and money was flowing in a quotidian manner. He even purchased a mansion that spanned about 230 acres and had 109 rooms in it. The mansion was being serviced and maintained with a whopping $1 million every year. He was ‘celebrity-wise’ rich back then and could afford to donate as much as he wanted, but in today’s reality, Holyfield cannot afford to donate $3 million. Logically, the man doesn’t even have that amount of liquid cash with him.

That Holyfield is broke isn’t news, it is a trite statement people in the United States are used to. This was the same man that was being threatened of imprisonment if he failed to pay his child’s support, an amount equivalent to $300,000. Baba simply couldn’t afford it. He also failed to pay $6,000 as child support for his 10 years old son. His mansion was auctioned off when he couldn’t pay for it again as he was in severe debt crisis. The Pugilist also failed to pay an amount of $550,000 for services rendered for a landscaping job done for him in Utah. When it got worse for him, he decided to sell off 20 pairs of his fight gloves, his Olympic bronze medal, championship rings, about 20 math robes and short, including his victory belts. This is all just to say that ‘Baba is broke’ (babu kudi). So, what is the true story behind his donation to Lagos State?

 

Who is Bolaji Sparks?

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     fashion is the most beautiful thing after nature

–  Bolaji Olumoh (a.k.a Bolaji Sparks)

The name Bolaji Sparks which is linked to the now popular fashion brand known as Sparks Classic Gears has been on the trend for some time now. Many wonder who Bolaji Sparks really is or what Sparks Classic Gear really is all about, as you might have seen the tag on their branded cloth somewhere or with someone close to you.

Bolaji Sparks is the fashion genius and entrepreneur behind the popular fashion brand known as Sparks Classic Gear. A lot of his brand aficionados know of the brand name but don’t really know the genius behind it. I’m about to reveal it to you and quench all the suspense that has been built up. Bolaji Sparks as the nickname goes is actually Habib Bolaji Olumoh,  a 23year old(come this April)  fashion entrepreneur and genius, who happens to be  the C.E.O and mastermind behind the brand Sparks Classic Gear. I have had opportunities to meet with this rising business man and fashion aficionado several times and even had an interview with him recently which  led to the birth of this blog.

He started his early schooling in Ilorin but later moved to Lagos while he was still in Primary 3. In his own words; ”Growing up in Lag was kind of cool but not much fun as I had to stay indoor most of the time even though I had the Lagos orientation in me”. He then attended Home Science Primary School to complete his primary education and coincidentally, one of his favorite artist, Olubankole Wellington a.k.a Banky W to be specific, also attended the secondary school but at different times. Upon completion of his primary school, he proceeded to Ronik Comprehensive School for his secondary school education, but as an unintentional routine and habit that he took up, he changed his secondary school as he relocated back to Ilorin and then completed his schooling in Sapati International School. He told me during the interview; ” that was at first the worst thing that I felt ever happened to me, but God blessed me with that move as Sapati International School became my then new home”. He went on to tell me that Ilorin wasn’t bubbling like Lag but it was like everybody was one big family.

On asking him if Sparks Classic Gear had always being on his mind or he accidentally stumbled upon this idea in his university days as the like of Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O of Facebook did in his own university days at Harvard. He was quick to dismiss this and said that it had been his long time dream even though he had not come up with the brand name then. He said in his own expression ” I’m a big fan of Sean Combs a.k.a Diddy who owns Sean John and Jay-Z owner and C.E.O of Roca Wears. I used to dream of wearing my own brand” .

Bolaji Sparks is a fashion enthusiast who loves the glamour of the fashion world and quoted; ”Fashion is the most beautiful thing after nature”. Starting up with the fashion brand wasn’t easy at the initial stage as he did not get all the required support that he needed then. He had to sacrifice his time, his personal savings and allowances to make wears. He also had to deal with school timetable and his parents. When I inquired about what or who kept him going during this trial period, he commented; ”God kept me going from day one”. This reminds me of a particular personal expression I left on twitter some days back quoting that the period before success emerges are usually the most trying and difficult ones. He said then he had few people who believed in him,but the brand name was spreading in Unilorin and even Ilorin as a whole. The strong phrase of ‘winners don’t quit no matter what’ erupted from his lips strongly and this phrase also lies in concordance with General Pype’s song Victorious Man.

People who have inspired him and who he sees as role model include Dbanj and Aliko Dangote and above all, he honours God and sees Him as his source of inspiration and motivation. When I asked about where he sees himself in like ten years, he replied by saying he sees himself in a better position than he currently is. He has only one regret in life which is him not having started the fashion brand earlier but still acknowledges that God’s time is the best.

He hopes to combine his law practice together with his fashion biz and is a believer of having multiple streams of income. During his free time, he spends it with his family, plays soccer with his guys, listens to music and also thinks of more innovations to bring to the fashion world. He is a fashion tycoon in the rising and he’s a must-to-meet person as you will love his personality.

To personally get in contact with him, hit him up on his twitter account @iam_sparks

Balogun Femi (@Balogs5)

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AVAILABILITY ISN’T EVERYTHING

Just because you own a land somewhere or you happen to rent or lease a land from someone in a particular area does not ultimately mean that you should set up your business in that area. I have seen businesses set up in absurd places and what runs through my mind is ”how I love to get in touch with the owner and enlighten him about how to site up a business”. You having a land is not a go ahead to build up your business in that area. There are many factors to consider before siting up a business in a particular area, this factor includes; how is the awareness of the business in that area? how accessible is the business to the target market? cost of setting up in that particular area? 
I happened to pass by a very busy road in a south-western town and during my passage I noticed that a very big eatery was about being open in that area. To me, the idea is absurd and talking business it does not strike at all. This is due to the fact that when people are passing through the road with their cars, an annoying and unpleasant hold up regularly holds up in that particular area where that eatery was being sited up. I know that the business owners were thinking that the road is always busy hence a large market for them or that they had a land there and then taught what the heck, lets build the eatery there. What runs through the mind of passers by is how they are just going to get home and get some rest or how they will get to their destination as soon as possible due to the annoying hold-up. No one will say; hey, look at that lovely eatery, lets branch and have some bite and then continue back in the queue from where we diverged from. The owners ought to have thought about this from the perspective of their so-called target market. This is a huge mistake which one cannot afford to make in siting up a business. Because you happen to own a land does not mean you should start up the business you are thinking of initiating. Do your research well and know whether that geographic location favors the particular business you want to venture into.

 

RISK TAKERS

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RISK TAKERS
Some weeks back I was on my couch watching Bloomberg TV and the particular show that was on was Risk Takers. I’m a fan of the TV show and was excited to know who was being profiled this time around as I was expecting to see someone I knew and who is a big shot. Ironically, I didn’t know the person being profiled but you are damn right the story was exhilarating and I was perplexed at the success niche this man built gradually for himself and his Company.
Who else will I be talking about if not Dr Michael Burry (Born 1971), a physician turned hedge fund manager (A hedge fund is an investment fund that can undertake a vast range of investments and trading activities and its usually open to certain investors). He successfully and single-handedly built a hedge fund which made high return on investments (ROI) both for his investors and also for himself. In his early childhood, he developed a tumour in one of his eyes and it was operated on which later led to the loss of that eye making only one eye of his functional. He was always this atypical kid who didn’t really follow the crowd and the norms of the majority. He said he likes to stand out from any group and then prefers to analyse that group instead of being in it; in short, he is what we call nowadays as a man who thinks and operates outside the box. It is not just enough for you as a visionary, a manager, businessman, innovator to think outside the box, you also have to operate outside the box. Significant and lasting successes are built on both of these qualities and not just one.
After his high school, he attended Vanderbilt School of Medicine where he graduated from as a certified and licensed medical personnel. During his undergraduate days he fell in love with financial investments and started studying the trends in the capital market. This became his passion as he then started a blog where he made advises and comments on which stocks will improve and those which will decline as time goes by. Unknown to him, there were some top financial investors apart from other traders who had taken keen interest in him mainly because his predictions about stock value were nearly always if not just always correct. People were reading his blog and trading on this advises and in the process was making profits based on what he advised.
Upon graduation, he did his residency at Stanford hospital at their neurology department and during that period he still created some time (after working hours late in the night) to study more about the financial markets and to operate his blog site. In 2000, he quit his job as a medical doctor in order to pursue his passion and hobby. Prior to him quitting his job he was strongly advised not to by his superiors as they felt he didn’t know what he was doing. Funny enough and truthfully this still happens in a lot of places as people are so comfortable with their status quo and are afraid to leave the known and certain and delve into the unknown. Success doesn’t come cheap as one has to take risks which might either make or break us but if we still summon enough courage to take these risks, the sky will only be our starting point. People tend to say that the sky is one’s limit, this is absurdly wrong as one man once said; ‘don’t tell me the sky is my limit when there are footprints on the moon’.
During his initial days as a new hedge fund manager, he got calls from Joel Greenblat, another hedge fund manager and an investor and also White Mountains Insurance Group and they invested in his company reason being that they’ve been following his blog site and noticed the accuracy of his financial market predictions. From 2000 to 2008, his hedge fund company Scion Capital recorded returns of 489.34 percent (net of fees and expenses) during the time S & P 500 just recorded only about 2 percent returns over the same period. Once your are creative, gifted and skilled in something, people will invest in that which you are as they will believe in what you do and what you stand for. He was also one of the first people to predict the then impending financial crisis that erupted in 2007 way back around 2003 to 2005. He claimed he studied the real estate market appropriately and predicted that when the real estate market values reset, the financial bubble will finally burst leading to financial doom and chaos. He then bet against the Subprime mortgages ( Subprime mortgage is a means of lending money to people who may have difficulty in maintaining repayment schedule) though that period was a difficult and trying one for him as he faced challenges from some of his investors and also criticism from some major makers in the financial market.. The bet finally paid off in 2007 when financial bubble finally burst and Scion Capital made about 800 million dollars as profit with about 700 million dollars going to the investors and 100 million dollars going to Dr Michael Burry personally.
In 2008, he liquidated his company and then closed it down to focus more on his own personal financial trading and investments. He currently has investments in almond farms (California) and sits on the board of some institutions. He says now he has time to focus on his family more and also to do financial trading without restrictions and questioning by investors. He is married and with children and they currently reside in California where he runs his work from.

Balogun Femi